Whitney Houston on the Soundtrack of My Childhood

By Charlotte Hilton Anderson, REDBOOK

Whitney Houston lived in my bathroom in the early '90s. Not officially of course, but thanks to a greater-than-average amount of pre-teen angst and a less-than-average voice, I spent a lot of time in my bathroom very earnestly belting Whitney tunes. With her huge, clear voice and poignant lyrics, I felt like she really got me. Even if I was too young to really understand her.

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"The Greatest Love of All" was her first song to really impact me. I remember being 10 and jumping on the trampoline for hours singing it over and over again with my friends. "I believe the children are our future..." I'm not sure if it was because we already identified with the adult sentiment or because we thought we were the children of the future. Or maybe it was just because it was so fun to sing.

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Whitney and I had a passing relationship for the next few years but then I discovered a movie that changed everything for me. I bet you're thinking it's The Bodyguard. That would make sense, but you'd be wrong. My parents wouldn't let me see it and I just realized at this very moment that I still haven't seen it despite being an adult for well over a decade now. No, the movie that so touched this little white suburban girl so deeply was The Preacher's Wife. Remember that one?

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The plot is lost to me now, but I still have every single gospel song on that entire soundtrack memorized. I sang "You Were Loved" to my infants and despite the cheesy synthesizer it still brings tears to my eyes. "Who Would Imagine a King?" is still a perennial favorite on my Christmas playlist. And "I Go to the Rock" got me through some tough times. Whitney Houston earned her place on the soundtrack of my childhood. Her tragic death on Friday made me look at my own children and wonder who will make the final cut on the soundtrack of their childhoods. Adele? Lady Gaga? The Pillow Pets song??

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Sometimes you don't even realize how much a part of your life a person is until they're not in it anymore. Dear Whitney: "And I-eee-I-eee-I will always love youuuuuu!"

Did you have a Whitney Houston song on your childhood soundtrack too? What songs do you hope (or fear) that your kids will remember about their formative years?

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